Concerns over Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)

An example of why I value EWG Skin Deep database. It’s not perfect, but has helped me learn a LOT about ingredients of concern. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)- sounds harmless, right? It comes from fruit. I never would’ve thought twice about being alarmed when seeing it on an ingredient label, except in the process of looking things up in EWG I noticed they rate it a 6 which is very high… Sharing a couple of links below for those interested to learn more about why it receives this rating.
Those critical of EWG usually say the organization is paid off to give good ratings to certain companies. My response: Don’t browse by company, browse by ingredients you’re interested in… It’s not a final answer on anything, but as I said, a great starting point, and I like that they like to usually hundreds of PubMed studies to back up their numbers.
EWG listing: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701433/CITRUS_GRANDIS_%28GRAPEFRUIT%29_SEED_EXTRACT/
One of several articles you can find listing concerns over this ingredient: http://chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com/most-controversial/2010/1/27/the-truth-about-grapefruit-seed-extract.html
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Earth Paints Review

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Review of Earth Paints, a family-run business based in Oregon. I have had Earth Paints on my Made in the USA list under art supplies since learning about them some time ago, but had not personally tried the paints so was very excited to receive a sampling of them for this review! About the family behind Earth Paints, from their website: “Artist and mother, Leah Fanning Mebane & her husband, Drew, work from home creating small batches of high quality, natural, sustainable paint (no child labor involved!) We create our paints in basically the same way our cave-dwelling ancestors did 100,000 years ago, and most cultures around the world and throughout the centuries have (with the help of a few modern gadgets). We enjoy carrying on this ancient tradition and sharing non-toxic, natural paint with the world. We create Earth Paints using eco-friendly, natural pigments, millions of years in the making. Harvested from the earth, the naturally colored clay is dried, crushed and sifted into pure pigments. The vibrancy and luminosity of these natural paints are unsurpassed for creating deeply saturated colors. We offer both our professional, eco-friendly Earth Oil Paint Kit for artists and water soluble Children’s Earth Paint Kits. A professional toxicologist tested every pigment for toxicity. We mix the pigments with organic milk protein to create a paint that is water-soluble and creamy”.

This business, like all businesses these days, gets tons of requests from bloggers such as myself for samples of their products. They agreed to send a partial kit for me to get an idea of the quality of their product. I was sent a red, yellow & blue sample, the whole kit contains orange, green & brown in addition to the colors I was sent. The kits are available in 2 sizes: Petite which will yield 11 ounces of paint when mixed ($19.95), or the larger kit which will yield 96 ounces of paint when mixed ($29.95). Refills & bulk amounts are also available, something I always like to see offered! They also offer an egg- dyeing kit, an eco gesso kit and face & body paint kit.

My son has really, really enjoyed these paints, and so have I as I have no concerns over their safety! 1st, mixing them up has been great fun. I use a 4 oz. glass Mason jar for each color, which is convenient for when we’re done as they have lids for refrigerating leftovers until the next use. I get out ~1 TBSP of powder, hand it to him & let him dump it in the glass jar. Then I get out a shot glass & fill it full of water & hand that to him to dump in, and then hand him a paint brush for each color & let him mix them up. He really loves the process of making the paints, and I love that it engages him, and he learns that not everything comes ready-to-go in a plastic tub from the store. And of course he really enjoys painting. The project he’s enjoyed the most was when I let him dip his hands & feet in for prints, as you can see in the photo. The colors are very earthy, and dry very similar to the color they are when wet, dulling maybe just a little. And of course you can water them down more or less depending on your preferences. The hand/foot prints were from a different batch that was more watered down than the brilliant artwork above in the attached photo. The blue is extremely vibrant & impresses me every time I see it, it’s my favorite! Here’s info from their website on how they acquire this blue color:
Where do you find the blue earth?

•The blue earth is the only color that has been tampered with to get this vibrant color. It is made of 90% earthen clay with 10% mineral added and then heated in the oven. Throughout history, blues in nature were very rare and usually made with precious stones like Lapis Lazuli. These stones are now unsustainably harvested in Afghanistan so we’ve found this alternative.

Their website is full of great information, I really enjoyed reading the following facts: “We are proud that our Earth Paints are one of the safest paint products on the market. They are safe for you, your child, and the planet. They are handcrafted, and because of their undiluted purity, these paints have a time-tested durability of thousands of years. Of the many benefits, here are a few….

•Archival: Pure pigments are the most permanent of all pigments, lasting thousands of years.
•Superior Quality: There are no added fillers or stabilizers (to increase shelf life). This increases paint intensity and allows the refraction of light to bounce off of pigment particles. Color mixing is also greatly improved without additives.
•Vibrancy: The pigment particles are larger and more irregular (than synthetic pigments), which allows for more light to pass through the pigment particles and creates a paint that has a higher refraction-vibrancy.
•Non-toxic and natural: Truly certified non-toxic and earth friendly paint for you and your child (no need to ventilate studio).
•Durable: Not affected by sunlight, temperature or humidity.
•You don’t have to worry about harming yourself, your family, and the environment in order to create your art.
•No more off-gassing paintings in your studio or home.
•The risk of acute/chronic diseases from heavy metal toxins is eliminated.
•You can safely dispose of rags and excess paint in the trash and flush wash-water down the drain.
•The ONLY type of pigment that is completely unaffected by UV rays (commonly used to protect metal & wood).
•Made in the USA by a small, family-owned business.
•Connection with nature and the earth beneath our feet: Children are always shocked to learn that they’re actually painting with “dirt.”
•Earth Paints were developed primarily with safety, sustainability, and quality in mind. Using natural earth pigments, our paints are safe, certified non-toxic, and organic. They have been tested by government approved toxicologists and are 100% non-toxic. But no matter how tantalizing they seem, we still do not recommend ingesting them and please avoid inhaling the dust.
•For the children’s kit, it’s best to use the paint mixture promptly after mixing or refrigerate it because the milk in the paint will spoil after a few days if left out. Refrigerate them in a closed container and they will last as long as milk lasts (1-2 weeks). Wash hands after use.
•* Note Possible Allergen: Children’s Paints contain organic milk protein (from happy, local, organic cow dairy)
•*Paints are safe to wash down the sink.
•* Conforms to ASTMD-4236
•If you’ve used toxic paints for years, here are some easy ways to detox those nasty chemicals.

Did you know………
•Arts and crafts products do not usually list ingredients. Consumers rely upon “non-toxic” certification, believing that their art materials have undergone sufficient testing to ensure the products they use are safe. Don’t let these labels fool you.
•Art pigments (colors) are commonly made from petrochemicals, and the actual hazards of these materials are not always known. In the US, synthetic pigments that have never been tested for toxicity can be labeled “non-toxic.” The rationale? There is no data to prove otherwise.
•Arts and crafts paints are exempt from consumer paint lead laws, and often contain lead, cadmium, and a host of toxic ingredients like formaldehyde (a carcinogen), one of the most common paint preservatives. Be careful what you paint with or give your child to paint with.”

I am very grateful that Leah agreed to send me a sampling of these wonderful paints! I learned a lot about natural pigments, and appreciate all the additional info they provide on their website about paints in general. I think these paints would make any child a very happy artist, and would be a fabulous birthday or other gift idea. I will definitely be buying my son a full kit of colors once we use up these samples.

For more information, including a photo gallery, please visit their website & ‘like’ their Facebook page:
http://www.naturalearthpaint.com/
https://www.facebook.com/EarthPaints

Baby Wipe Chart

What is the ‘safest’ Disposable Baby Wipe?

Unfortunately I cannot recommend any as they all have very questionable ingredients in them and they all make me uncomfortable to put on someone, especially a sensitive, soft skinned babe. Here are a few choices from the EWG that are rated around a 1-2 however, looking closely at the actual ingredient list you can see that they all have toxic substances to them.

My suggestion? If you need something that is disposable for a daycare, grandma’s house, etc….I would home make them with paper towels and a mix of Dr. Bronner’s baby mild and water (or any other homemade recipe you use for your cloth diapers, use on these instead!)

**Below is the break down copied directly from EWG.org/skindeep of a few of disposable wipes that people will commonly think of when trying to find a ‘natural’ baby wipe.**

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Discovering the Truth Behind That ‘Natural’ Label

By Jolene Marty

With so many products out there claiming to be ‘natural’ and ‘safe’, how do we know which are really so? Everything nowadays seems to carry a label promising good and wholesome ingredients for our families however, it is sad to say that many of these are simply advertising ploys to get you to buy their product. Goldfish and sugar cereals have now become ‘natural’ and all baby shampoos are now ‘non-toxic’. Since when? Since the green and healthy living movement became very profitable and the Food and Drug Administration put lax requirements on what can be considered ‘safe’, that’s when. Let’s explore what the requirements are for being natural, non-toxic, etc.
Natural

As of April 2012, the FDA have not developed a description for use of the term natural or its derivatives. On their website they say that they do prefer that a food that contains added color, artificial flavors, and synthetic substances not be labeled as natural. (FDA.gov, 2012) This is obviously not enforced with a closeness as many children’s favorite snacks such as Goldfish Snack Crackers has the label Natural on the front and contains unnatural ingredients such as GMO’s (found in its canola, sunflower, and soybean oils) and MSG (found in its autolyzed yeast). Both of which are toxic for the body. The term ‘natural’ should be second guessed by looking at the label on the side or back of the package. Remember, the FDA does NOT have a regulation for this therefore, anything can quite literally technically have the term natural.
goldfish

Non-Toxic

This is another common things we see on the backs of products that contain ingredients linked to cancer, endocrine disruptors, and many other horrible effects on the body. Non-Toxic means something will not cause harm to health or the environment….according to the FDA. When seeing the words ‘non-toxic’ it almost always means that it has ingredients that can cause harm to you but are deemed ‘safe’ by the FDA. Here is an example from GreenerChoices.org Consumer Reports:  “CPSC describes tests that can be used to determine acute toxicity in terms of doses lethal to animals. By their definition, if a pint of a substance would be lethal to an average adult, it is considered acutely toxic. If it takes more than this to produce a lethal effect (say a quart), then CPSC would not regard the chemical as toxic. However, a substance that could kill an average adult who drank a quart is certainly not harmless. Such a product could be labeled “non-toxic” and not be in violation of the law.”

This is highly misleading, and letting companies produce toxic products to be sold to the public at ‘less than toxic levels’ so they may TRICK the general public into thinking they are getting a safe, quality item. The truly sick part is that they are profiting majorly from this. Companies will up-charge you for buying their ‘non-toxic’ product over a conventional product even though you are NOT buying a safer item! The Honest Company labels their products as Non-Toxic….here are a few ingredients that they include in some of their products: Cocamidopropyl Betaine (EWG,4), Phenoxyethanol (EWG, 4), and carrageenan (EWG, 3)

honest

Toxin-Free
When something is FREE from any toxins, they can be considered toxin-free. It is not the same thing as being non-toxic. (You will find the rare company that says they are non-toxic and are in fact toxin free). It can be hard to differentiate the difference especially when a company so heavily advertises as being safe but it is something that is solely found by consumer awareness. Many people who have phones or computers can look up the Environmental Working Group’s website (listed at the bottom of this article) and most often the brand is in their database with ingredients broken down as to whether or not they are harmful or not for you. If an item cannot be found, you can search by individual ingredient. A very valuable resources when trying to rid your life of toxic substances.

The Different Tiers of being Organic

There are several levels of being organic and it’s best to know which is what so that you may choose the best option for your family.

100% Organic
According to the USDA’s national organic standards, products labeled as “100 percent organic” must contain only organically produced ingredients. Products containing 100% organic ingredients may display the USDA Organic seal and the certifier’s logo, and must identify the certifying agent.

Organic

To be labeled as “organic,” 95% of the ingredients must be organically grown and the remaining 5% may be non-organic agricultural ingredients or synthetic substances that have been approved for use in organics by the USDA. These products are also allowed to display the USDA organic seal and certifier’s logo, and must identify the certifying agent.
Made with Organic Ingredients

Food products labeled as “made with organic ingredients” must be made with at least 70% organic ingredients. The remaining 30% may be agricultural products that are not produced according to the organic standards, and the ingredients list must clearly specify which products are organic and which are conventional. Non-organically produced agricultural ingredients may be processed with synthetics, but any non-agricultural ingredients appearing in the ingredients list of a “made with organic ingredients” product must be approved for use in organics by the USDA. These products must identify the certifying agent and may display the certifier’s logo on the back panel, but may not display the USDA organic seal.

Wait! There’s A Loophole!

All products using the USDA organic seal (food, personal care products, clothing, etc.) are held to the same standards (a manufacturer using the USDA organic seal on a product that does not qualify would be in violation of federal law, and could be subject to civil penalties). Unfortunately, the USDA does not have authority over the use of the term “organic” in a brand name, and some companies are taking advantage of this loophole. (greenerchoices.org, 2013). This is why when people think they are eating wholesome food or buying safe products they aren’t. Companies that do this should be ashamed.

Other Things to Look For

There are many other ways that companies try to deceive you by way of advertisement, into thinking their product is completely safe for you and your family. Below are listed a few common things to look for when looking for items that are truly safe, so to not get caught up in judging a product by first glance.

The ‘NO’s’ List

Companies like to lure you in by showing you what harmful things they do NOT contain. NO sulfates, NO artificial dye, NO paraben, NO MSG, and NO formaldehyde – which is great! They even put this on the front of the package in large, bold letters to catch your eye and not make you think twice about reading the back label. What you will often find on the back label are things like those nasty little preservatives they like to sneak in there under your nose, or fragrances, or in food autolyzed yeast which actually IS MSG (which is a common ingredient to find in ‘MSG free’ foods-scary right?)

Nature Pictures & Color
When people think of natural, they tend to think of nature…leaves, trees, green, brown, etc. Advertisers know this and try to make things they are trying to sell off as natural, have nature-like packaging. I see this in baby wipes very often. It will have a bunch of leaves on it, the package will be green and have a little bee on the front (and hey it even says Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic) and you think you have found something natural. Sometimes it even will say Natural on the front. Unfortunately upon taking a closer look, you will find things that are horrible for your body and health. These are the items that are general marked up in price because you are buying something ‘natural’ even though it is really far from the truth.
7th gen

Catch Phrases
The last common thing I see on packaging on either food or products, are catch-phrases that companies make people think they are buying something natural and safe when in fact it is advertisement at its best. A few catch phrases to look out for: Free & Clear (does not mean its free and clear from all toxins), Green (doesn’t mean it’s good for you or the environment), Hypoallergenic (a lot of people are still allergic to these items because of other bad for you ingredients present in them), and sadly the term eco-friendly often gets misused and I find it most often on a bad for you product that happens to be in a made from recycled products package.

I know this was a long article but there are some very common things people should be aware of in order to be informed buyers. There are many, many companies out there that do not care for the well-being of its consumers, only the profit they seek to make by tricking people into thinking they are doing better for their families. Fortunately for us, there are a lot of really great companies that are not greenwashers, they are bonafide, hardworking, honest companies that give forth a toxic free (often organic and handmade) product. Remember, you vote with your dollar and when you know better, you do better.

A few websites with great information:
greenerchoices.org (offer report cards, breaks down FDA laws)
fda.gov (if you are interested in what the law actually says about naming products)
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop (talks about being organic and the breakdown of such)
And as always if you ever are in need of a great resource that lists the greenwashers AND the safe companies go here: https://ecofriendlyusa.wordpress.com/product-reviews/personal-carecleaning-master-list/

Written by Jolene Marty, Published July 2013.

Removing permanent marker from fabric (couch, etc)

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Remove permanent marker from fabric- use #999 for Dr. Bronner’s. How do I know this works? My 2 year old got a hold of a black Sharpie. I was sitting with him allowing to use it under my supervision. He was coloring nicely on some paper laying on the floor. I went in the other room to use the bathroom, was gone maybe 1 minute, and came back in to find him perched on the couch coloring the cushion (did I mention he was 2 I had seen this DIY remedy floating around the web months ago (credit to H3idiho Designs) & took mental note. As soon as I saw the marker mess I ran to the medicine cabinet for the Peroxide, grabbed a spray bottle, mixed equal amounts of Peroxide w/ Dr. B (any one should work, this is Tea Tree), sprayed the mess down & let it sit for 1 minute. The marker appeared to disappear immediately, but I wasn’t totally sure until it dried- sure enough, it was gone without a trace! Would the Dr. B or Peroxide alone have done the trick? Possibly, but I wasn’t up for experimenting. As for my sweet little 2 year old- he now knows he doesn’t get black markers after the couch incident

Growing Up Wild Review

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Hello! My name is Althea & I’m so lucky to have this organic cotton swaddle blanket & hat to keep me warm & snuggly J Growing Up Wild is an Etsy shop based in Boise, Idaho. Kelly, the Mama behind this business, puts her heart & soul into every item she creates, just as if she was making them for her own family. ‘About’ info from her site: “Growing Up Wild is more than just the organic labels that many of my clothes carry. It is about creating quality items that are good to your baby and good to our planet. It is the little things that I do as I create to ensure that I am being environmentally friendly in my practices. I try to utilize every last fabric scrap so that there is very little waste, to walk to ship items whenever possible and to run my home (since that is where I hand make each item) in a sustainable way. Every item I sell is pre-washed in Charlie’s Soap and shipped to you ready to wear! All items are made one at a time, by hand in my smoke and pet free home studio in Idaho. All of my designs are made without hazardous decorations such as beads, buttons or sequins. My shop is the joining of my two loves- little ones and nature. I believe kids should get to experience the joys of running barefoot outside, watching birds soar, climbing trees and splashing in creeks. Each item in my shop is inspired by that belief. Most items were originally designed for one of my two boys but then morphed into a product I hoped others would love as much as our family does. My days are filled with a constant hum of sewing, laughter, cuddles, fabric and at times even tears.”

I’ve had Growing Up Wild on my Made in the USA Master list under the shoe category for some time after they were recommended by others, but had not personally owned any items. I was so honored to have Kelly offer to make me a matching organic blanket & hat of my choice for my new bundle of joy. Since we didn’t know if we were having a girl or boy (I STRONGLY encourage you to hold off, it was SO exciting not to know), I picked out this gender-neutral print. You may, or may not know that cotton is one of the most heavily-sprayed crops grown in the US. So having this organic cotton blanket & hat as one of the 1st materials to touch my newborns skin made me a very happy Mama, both for my newborns sake & for the environment as well! They are SO incredibly soft and very light-weight, making them perfect for swaddling my July baby (who loves to be swaddled). There are numerous themes & colors available. They can be personalized and are available in newborn & toddler sizes. The hat has plenty of room to grow with my babe, who was 10# at birth- the hat & the blanket will both see many, many months of use.  Most of the blankets run $45 themselves, or $55 for the blanket/hat set. What a great item to put on your baby shower registry if you are an expecting Mama!

Categories of offerings from her Etsy shop, with several items in each category: Organic bodysuits, organic gift sets (matching onesies/t-shirt & shoe sets), organic shoes (0-18m, absolutely adorable offerings!), organic hats & blankets, organic teething toys (very cute wooden rings with fabric animals & shapes), toddler t-shirts, organic burp cloths, non-organic shoes (0-18m), sale & supplies, dresses.

Where she gets her fabrics: “The organic knit fabric for my swaddle blankets and hats is produced in the USA and GOTS certified. I buy most of my printed fabrics through a WAHM in Oregon (I like to pay it forward so people buying from me can actually help support two families), the printed fabrics are nearly all made in India though. The few fabrics that I don’t buy through that WAHM (cedarhousefabrics.com) are purchased directly from Jennifer at Monaluna (a US based company) as I buy from her by the bolt. My plain colored knit prints and the organic sweatshirt fleece that line many of my shoes are grown and milled in the USA. I wish more fabrics were 100% made in the USA. I always have my eyes open but currently the fabrics I buy through Near Sea Naturals are the only ones that meet my quality standards, are GOTS certified and made in the USA.” I have asked numerous clothing/cloth product manufacturers where they get their fabric & can tell you most of them say “it’s too expensive to get US-made fabric”. I feel Kelly is going out of her way to support Made in the US, and I TRULY appreciate her effort!!

THANK YOU Kelly for sharing your beautiful creations with me! And thanks for making great, safe, environmentally-friendly products using US-sourced materials as much as possible. Keep up the great work!!

Please visit her Etsy shop & Facebook page to browse her beautiful product offerings!
 
Spend $75 or more and use coupon code GONATURAL to save 15%!
Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/GrowingUpWild (424 feedback, 100% positive!)
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/growingupwild

My Acupuncture Experience

My family is all happily adjusting to life with our new little love. Big brother is soooo full of kisses for Althea, and I’m adoring having two little snugglers ♥  I had several people comment that they were curious about my acupuncture experience, so I thought I’d share the gist of it.

I’ve never had acupuncture before. It was suggested to me from a Mama who had a session when she was overdue, went home, took a nap & woke up in labor. So I thought it was worth a try. I was 8 days overdue. A foot/leg massage had brought on contractions a few days prior & I really felt I was on the verge of labor, just needed a little nudge. I had a vision of huge needles in my mind for some reason, and when I saw how tiny the needles were I relaxed greatly 🙂 They are about 2″ long and very flimsy, wire-like.

I went in at noon, she had me lay on my side & inserted a total of 10 needles in my tailbone, inner ankle & wrists. She left for 15 min while I laid on my side listening to Gregorian chants & feeling an awesome cool breeze come in through the open window. She came back, turned the needles a bit, left for another 15 min while I laid there & relaxed some more, visualizing white light coming in through the top of my head & out the needles. She came back, took them out & I was done. Other than a tiny little poke when she inserted them I didn’t feel a thing, other than relaxed. I went to the food co-op & did one last shopping run as I really felt it would be my last run for awhile, went home & laid on the couch with my toddler for an hour or so, and started feeling a contraction here & there within 2 hours of the appt. Within 4 hours of leaving her office I was having contractions 5 min apart, and within 10 hours of the appt. I delivered my 10# 2 oz. perfect baby girl in 3 pushes.

So, that’s my story. Is it possible it’s a complete coincidence & I would’ve gone into labor regardless of the acupuncture? Of course. But I really, really feel it was the little nudge I needed to relax my body & help me welcome Althea into the world. It won’t work for everyone, but she did tell me she has rarely had to do a follow-up, as it almost always works on the 1st try (this is a very small town, so I know she isn’t inducing overdue Mamas daily or anything, but she said she’s had very good success with it). So, I’m a believer… And finally I want to thank all of you for your thoughts, wishes, kind words. It’s awesome connecting with such an awesome community of kind, caring Mamas (& women, I’m sure some of you aren’t mamas).

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